By Jeff Jefcoat, F118344
I consider FMCA to be the premier organization in promoting a lifestyle of road travel and adventure in North America. The friends my wife, Jean, and I have made; the education we have gained; and the pleasure we’ve experienced traveling the continental United States and Canada will forever be instilled in our memories.
This month I’d like to highlight some of the most interesting locations we have visited in our retirement years. I’ve divided them into two categories. In my opinion, each place is worth visiting.
The locations in the first category offer free admission. They are listed basically from east to west, but I’ve made no attempt to list them according to preference.
1. Key West, Florida. As you travel west toward this island and the city that shares its name, crossing numerous other islands along the way, the blue, clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico come together. The town of Key West lies only 90 miles from Cuba. Along the way you will see Fat Albert, a radar-equipped, tethered balloon that helps the United States to monitor Cuba’s activities.
2. The Outer Banks of North Carolina. Many times, a location will be very different from what we had imagined it to be. So it was with the Outer Banks. I had imagined driving down State Route 12 and seeing water, fishermen, and wildlife on either side of the road. Not so. The man-enhanced, protected sand dunes, with their rich vegetation, flank the highway, so drivers stay focused. If you are traveling from the south, the ferry boat crossings are a highlight. The five lighthouses that span the Outer Banks, especially the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which was relocated inland a few years ago, are most interesting. You do have to pay a small fee to go inside the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, where you can climb 268 steps to the top. This landmark was reopened to the public this past April after renovations to its winding staircase and fresh paint for its distinctive black-and-white stripes.
3. Prince Edward Island, Canada. This is the smallest of the Canadian provinces, and for centuries it was accessible only by boat. A bridge now exists, and although you don’t have to pay a toll to enter, you do when you leave. Many of the island folk of varying nationalities earn a living by fishing, dairying, farming, and raising livestock. You will be graciously welcomed and enjoy a visit you will never forget.
4. The Cattleman’s Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch, Texas. This restaurant and farm complex is approximately 35 minutes southeast of downtown El Paso. Take the Fabens exit (number 49) off Interstate 10, turn north, and follow the small sign. There is little to see in this desert region for the next 5 miles, and then suddenly you arrive at an oasis. We had to swing wide to the left to get our coach through the big wrought-iron gate and enter the grounds. Limited, free motorhome parking is available at the top of a hill. Then the fun begins. You can enjoy a magnificent view; see a collection of birds and animals; visit the movie sets from two films; see a gristmill and windmill; and much more. The restaurant’s steaks are superb, too.
5. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The drive along Interstate 84 beside the Columbia River in Oregon is breathtaking. Eighteen-wheelers across the river in Washington look like toy trucks, and even the train running along between you and the river looks like a miniature. This is a drive worth taking.
6. Salt Lake City, Utah. Here we were inspired by the story of the Mormons “” their struggle to make it to this place and the amazing progress that they have made since they arrived. The development of Temple Square, the state capitol, and the University of Utah are only a few examples of what strong determination and hard work can accomplish.
7. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. This city, located at the tip of Vancouver Island, sets a standard that cities in the United States should emulate. Not even a cigarette butt can be seen on the sidewalks or in the gutters. The “slum” areas look like upscale developments in most U.S. cities. Victoria stands out as the cleanest city we have ever visited.
8. Eureka, California. No interstate highways lead to Eureka, which is located along the Pacific coast in northern California. I consider its city park, with its giant redwood trees, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. You also should drive along the 33-mile Avenue of the Giants, which is not far from Eureka. The road’s north entrance is at the Pepperwood/Jordan Creek exit off U.S. 101; its southern entrance is at the Phillipsville exit off U.S. 101.
9. Wall Drug, Wall, South Dakota. The American dream came true in this little South Dakota town when Ted Hustead, just out of pharmacy school, inherited $3,000 from his father’s estate and invested it in a drug store located about 50 miles east of Rapid City. His business struggled financially for the first five years. Then, one hot summer afternoon, his wife put their children down for a nap and decided to rest herself. As she listened to all the cars going by on the highway, she came up with an idea that changed the fortune of the small business. The idea was to post signs along the highway offering free ice water to folks who stopped. The rest, as they say, is history. Today the compound includes entire buildings devoted to selling specialty items, such as Western wear, boots, hats, jewelry, photography, etc. The “Free Ice Water” signs are still posted.
10. Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California. A tour of the Boulevard and its renowned Walk of Fame is truly a treat. Many famous stars in show business “” movie stars, singers, musicians, and others “” are forever remembered in “stars” on the sidewalk. It’s a great nostalgia trip.
The locations in our second category of most interesting places to visit charge an admission fee, but we believe they are worth it. As in our first category, they are listed basically from east to west.
1. Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, Hyde Park, New York
2. The House on the Rock, Spring Green, Wisconsin, near Madison
3. Truman Presidential Museum & Library, Independence, Missouri
4. Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Johnson City, Texas
5. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota
6. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
7. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
8. Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace, Yorba Linda, California
9. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum, Simi Valley, California
10. Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California
We have visited many of these attractions while we were in the area attending FMCA international conventions and area rallies. We trust you enjoy your travels as much as we do.
Help Us Update Our Records
Please note that the deadline for making changes to the information included in the January 2004 membership directory issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine is October 31, 2003. So, you’ll want to check the 2003 directory to determine whether any of the information contained therein has changed, and contact the Membership Department at the FMCA national office to report the change.
Changes may be reported in several ways. You can call the Membership Department at (800) 543-3622 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, you can make changes to your membership records via FMCA’s Web site “” www.fmca.com/membership. Click on the Update Info link, and log in using your FMCA membership number and expiration date.
Although members’ phone numbers are for FMCA business use and not for publication, please remember to notify the FMCA Membership Department if your area code or phone number has changed. Similarly, if any other information has changed “” your address, zip/postal code, coach code, e-mail address, etc. “” please let us know.
We continue to add e-mail addresses to our membership records. These addresses will be maintained for FMCA business use only. If your e-mail address is not currently on file with us, please be sure to provide it. It is preferred that members submit their e-mail addresses online at www.fmca.com/membership. However, members without Internet access can e-mail the address in the following way:
Subj: Update e-mail
FMCA Membership Number (no spaces) (e.g., F123456)
E-mail address (e.g., user name@provider name.com)
Please check the information in the Stoppin’ Spots listing as well. This list begins on page 1034 of the January 2003 issue. If you are not included in this listing and wish to have your name added in one or more categories “” Stop Over, Come Visit, Mechanics Helper, or Pinch Hit Driver “” let the national office staff know that as well.